HUMAN 11011

ID: 11011
Name: Gary Carrier
Location: Las Vegas, USA
Domain: Entrepreneurship, Management and Investment Analysis
Job Profile: CEO/Founder of Plataforma Impact, Advisor of Favela Inc., Jiu-Jitsu competitor

There is an old saying in Portuguese,  ‘Dar um peixe a um homem é alimentá-lo por um dia; mas ensiná-lo a pescar é alimentá-lo por toda a vida.’

This can be translated as ‘to give a man a fish is to feed him for a day, but teaching him to fish is feeding him for life.’

The great divide that exists worldwide, where millions do not have access to the same elements that many take for granted, is an issue that keeps many awake. One such issue is the question of how to break the cycle of impoverishment and deprivation of possibilities to make that change.

This is a story of a determined father’s purpose to make the world a better place, not just for his family but to help other families shatter and end generational poverty. 

So, here’s introducing the passionate social entrepreneur Gary Carrier, the CEO and Founder of Plataforma Impact, who is paving a path for transforming the employment Sector and allowing talented learners to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy to better their communities and households. 

Introducing Human 11011

Growing up in Seattle

Gary was born in Los Angeles, Californiaand grew up in Seattle, WashingtonHe recalls growing up in a mixed neighborhood surrounded by diverse cultures. 

There were a lot of Mexican American immigrant families and Native-American reservations. I grew up around those two cultures. It was a community-oriented and family-oriented culture. I always felt comfortable around cultures that weren’t my own.’, he reminisces. 

He spent his early life surrounded by cultures that changed his belief of the world around him.

I learned to speak Spanish pretty early in life. I wanted to show my appreciation for how Mexican families treated me, especially. Plus, I could ask for more delicious Mexican food. That was the beginning of my childhood.’, he remembers vividly. 

His childhood memories include living in a large apartment complex, and he recalls how that initiated him to know an extensive network of people. 

My parents were hardworking, and I mostly lived with my grandparents. They were generous, and I would always see them extend a helping hand to others. Philanthropy was very palpable for me in my early years. I was lucky to have good guidance from them.‘, he confesses. 

His journey has been unique as he is the first in his family to attend college. 

‘It is a multi-generational thing where my mom’s life was better than my grandma’s, and my life was better than theirs.’, he reveals.

Athletics was something that ran in his family, and he reveals how his mother was a world champion in artistic roller skating. 

I was in athletics a lot. I gravitated towards this from my mom, a three-time world champion in roller skating. So, from when I was little, she always taught me the importance of resilience, dedication, and commitment that athletics teaches you. That every time you fall, you get back up. I always gravitated towards combat sports and martial arts, particularly wrestling and later jujitsu, and I still train and compete in jujitsu today.’, he narrates. 

Young Gary was exposed to different cultures and backgrounds, partly fuelled by his mother’s athletic career that required frequent traveling. His mom has been one of the most influential people in his life.

We travelled a lot, and she took me everywhere. We went to countries like Spain and Mexico. And it piqued my interest and made me realize how big the world is. Living in the States can get very ethnocentric as it is perceived as the centre of the world. There are so many lessons to be learned. So, she was a big influence and continues to be in my life.’, he explains.

His fascination with learning and understanding cultures and ethnicity apart from his own was fuelled by his experience at college. 

He describes, ‘I didn’t have a plan when I joined college. It was during the subprime mortgage crisis that I graduated. Sort of a bad time, but I got myself a one-way ticket to Mexico and got a job as an English teacher. I lived there for a year. And kept going south and made my way to Central America. Ultimately, I lived in Colombia for a while until I landed in Brazil.’

Brazil would change the course of his life. He recollects working as an English teacher and creating small online ventures to earn money. Giving back to the community was something he had always been interested. 

I got into construction when I was seventeen and wanted to go to Mexico to work with Habitat for Humanity. I met so many wonderful Mexican families due to my work. We once spent a week building a house for a woman living on a dirt floor with four kids in a small hut. The feeling of giving her the keys to that house was incomparable. It’s something money cannot buy. This is what life is all about. This is why we are here.’ he declares. 

Portrait: Gary Carrier

Finding his way

He grew up around Philanthropy and wanted to make a mark in the world in his way. 

He divulges, ‘When you leave, you cannot take anything with you. What is in our wake is either a positive or negative impact, so I wanted to do more social impact projects. I got involved in everything from building houses to refurbishing schools in low-income communities, painting murals, teaching English, and participating in athletic organizations operating in low-income communities. Meeting so many people through these projects was when I realized how many talented people do not get opportunities due to their circumstances.’

Volunteering and living in one of Brazil’s largest favelas, he realized the wasted opportunities that people with potential were losing out on due to their economic situation.

All the talent the world is missing out on is unfair. It’s also frustrating because when you think about how much talent the world misses out on, all the unfounded innovations could come in with equal opportunities. It was a realization that one could unlock human potential at the most unexpected places.’, he reveals. 

He understands the privilege he has due to being born in a country that has it all and the inherent privilege that comes with his ethnicity.

‘I know the privileges that a white male born in the United States gets … I realize how I can help people exponentially in a business sense as well as in a more sustainable way and scalable perspective. And to try and break the cycle of poverty for so many people. ‘, he describes. 

His first tryst with technology came about uniquely and was partly influenced by his mom. 

He recollects, ‘As my mom was an artistic roller-skater and coach, she would design her dresses and music. She would put together all the routines. I grew up around a lot of cassette tapes. These big stereos you put tapes into were my first introduction to technology.’

It was the year 1995 when he got his first home computer with a 56k dial-up modem and learned how to type on it and play computer games. 

It was one of those big, chunky computers. Then around the year 2000, in my junior high classes, I saw a Macintosh computer for the first time. Those were colored monitors and were green or red. I saw them at a class I was really interested in, and I was creating a newsletter for my school; then I got into video editing and realized how tech could supply visual access to other worlds.,’ he fondly remembers. 

Since then, technology has come a long way, and he explains how his early exposure to computers enabled him to understand technology’s importance in our lives. 

‘It was in 2022 that we started to see how tech plays such an important role as everything is done virtually now. Today we have millionaires from YouTube and TikTok, which is a testament to it.‘, he narrates. 

But the path to self-discovery can be more challenging than it seems. 

‘College was slightly weird as I hadn’t found myself yet. I graduated from school with 800 other people, and you can count the number of people who went to college after it on two hands. It wasn’t a strong tradition of going to college or university. So, I didn’t know many people when I went to college. Everyone was going to business or law or medical school. None of those things fit me.’, he reveals. 

Early on in life, he had found his calling in entrepreneurship. He felt that the classroom limited his learning and what he wanted to do. 

‘I was interested in entrepreneurship. I was interested in going to Latin America and speaking other languages. I never really found my niche or tribe in college. So, in my junior year, I studied abroad for the entire year. I got a minor in Spanish, political science, and communications. My options were limited in college. I knew I wouldn’t find my calling in the classroom or a book. I was going to find it out in the world. And it was waiting for me in Latin America; I just had to have the courage and the ability to venture off and to find it.’, he reminisces. 

Traveling is something he advises anyone looking to find their purpose in life. The vulnerability that comes as a foreigner and a traveller is an experience that teaches people many things. He explains how it brings in a touch of empathy toward others. 

Travel requires you to be empathetic. You understand when you go back to your home country, see a foreigner, and you have been in their position before. So, it makes you realize how good people and positivity still exist in the world. Unless we expose ourselves and create that vulnerability, we tend to have a skewed perspective of what the world is like.,’ he counsels. 

His globe-trotting experience has deeply affected his life and has been a significant influence in finding his purpose in life. 

The most important thing about travel is that you learn just as much about yourself as you do about the world. Especially when you’re young and you have the flexibility to do that. It’s a misconception that traveling is expensive. I have lived with families, and I stayed in hostels, I camped, I slept in hammocks, you know, I did everything to keep going. ‘, he acknowledges. 

The start of a new journey

Gary’s journey culminated in one of his most significant projects over the years. He founded the Plataforma Impact platform to create a world of equal opportunities. 

Plataforma Impact started after I left Brazil and returned to the United States for graduate school. So, after my master’s degree from UC Berkeley, I landed in San Francisco, where I worked in impact investing and the startup scene for a little while. I was essentially an investment analyst for an impact investing firm that sent me across Latin America. And most of those businesses had a social mission. Some of them were trying to help particularly low-income women entrepreneurs in developing countries.‘, he reveals. 

This work experience allowed him to observe and analyse different business models and how they generate social impact. 

‘I realize how in the ecosystem, there was difficulty in finding quality and affordable talent for these companies. And being in San Francisco, I kept hearing about the tech talent crunch and how there was not enough workforce or qualified workers in the area to suffice the demand. I realized how it was not just a national problem but an international one.’, he expresses. 

He explains how the digital transformation happening over the past hundred years requires a different type of workforce. 

We often hear that we need engineers, we need programmers … we also need creative problem solvers to think outside the box and dynamic in how they solve things. So, every time I think of such a description, I am taken back to the people I met in slums across Latin America. Those favelas where people have to think out of the box all the time to survive. ‘, he describes. 

His experience of living and working in these favelas has profoundly affected his resolve to bring opportunities for employment to this set of talented problem-solvers. 

‘It’s a city built without any professional architects or engineers or in the absence of any real public support. So, it’s incredible the human ingenuity that exists there. And it’s a shame that they don’t have more opportunity to showcase that ingenuity to the rest of the world due to lack of opportunity.‘, he explains. 

Plataforma is trying to revolutionize the job market by connecting recruiters and companies looking for talent to communities that have it in abundance. He delves further into how resilience or hard work is not the issue in low-income communities. However, connecting such talent to the right professional network that can open doors is the real issue for people losing out on the job market.

He divulges, ‘So our platform focuses on IT training and providing employability for the people we train in the favelas or the slums. To break the cycle of poverty, we need to get these people employed and get them on a growth trajectory that will influence their household income not just for themselves but their families and the generations to come.’

He is optimistic that these changes will result in more innovations as more tools and technologies are developed to aid the sector. Many partners working in such low-income communities need or want to teach technology and desire to know how to make it possible. So, they provide tools, materials, and training to people who will act as ambassadors to train more people.

‘As our model is built on the multiplier effect, we train the first couple of people and then ask them to train the next. So, it becomes possible to scale it quickly. The most important thing for us is that we don’t come in as outsiders; we train them first and then show their local communities that they can do it too. There’s no better representation and inspiration for them.‘, he discloses.

This non-profit organization aims to train more people in the future, employ them, put them in the job market, and give them their first professional opportunity so that they can, in turn, give back to their community.

He explains further, ‘We don’t charge for the training; we don’t charge any money. We only ask that you multiply your efforts and pass that knowledge on to inspire more people in the community. In that way, we can help more people.’

After training people interested in tech, the platform connects them to hiring companies where they gain three months of professional experience. He also brings in mentorship from techies in the Brazilian Diaspora or the United States to show them that being disadvantaged does not limit what one can do. 

The most powerful thing we can do is to refer them to people who have made it from a similar circumstance. Very early on, I knew that the model we have created should be self-sufficient. Most non-profits traditionally depend on donations or philanthropy mode. So, we build projects for external clients. We wanted to be in a position to control our destiny.,’ he describes. 

Making a difference

The spirited social entrepreneur recalls how he came about with the name of his organization.

Plataforma is a cognate. In Portuguese, Spanish, or English, it simply means a platform. It is an agreement that we, as a platform, would help people to the next level. But you have to pull yourself up. We are not here to give handouts but to help people willing to put in the work and dedication to commit themselves to the opportunities from our platform. So, it’s an agreement between them and us. That we help, train and support you, but you have to make that first step.’, he elucidates. 

On being asked what motivates him to try to solve such an important social and economic issue that exists around us, he explains how most of our solutions in the world revolve around accumulating more wealth, and we side line the incredible and unlimited potential that exists from people who do not get the opportunities to prove it to the world. 

If we could use all our resources and strongest minds to solve issues like poverty, hunger, or deforestation, our world could be a much better place today. My inspiration comes from the need to stand for leadership that aims to solve a global issue. The goal is not to be the wealthiest person in the cemetery, but someone who is remembered endearingly for the doors you opened for others. ‘, he explains. 

Democratizing opportunities inspire him as a person is not limited to achieving their true potential due to geography or gender or access to resources. 

From the very beginning…a lot of my life and mental wellbeing or the relationships I have…the quality of my life, I owe a lot to purpose. Listen to your purpose; it may not always be clear. It may feel like you are wandering in a dark forest. But everyone is born with a gift and things that call us from deep within. We have to discover that potential that exists within us. We come closer to that gift, and then we can give back to the world.’, he confesses. 

And finding his purpose in the world has been a journey that Gary admits gives him a feeling of a truly fulfilled life that has transformed his life. 

I have been fortunate to have had a clear indication of the need to follow my purpose. I am still finding and fulfilling that purpose. But I am happy and content today because I dared to figure out my purpose and gift and how to give it back to the world. It makes my life more meaningful.,’ he admits. 

The best advice he has received is to continue to follow one’s purpose in life and not give up no matter how long it takes. 

It is healing to be exactly where you are supposed to be. The advice that at the end of your life, you would be more regretful of the things you never did has stuck with me. We are not here to pay bills but to create impossible things through your purpose. So, find that courage.‘, he advises. 

He remembers how his initial jobs in a carnival or construction site helped him see the reality of low-wage employment and made him realize his life goal. 

I knew I won’t make it past thirty in such jobs as it was hard on the body. I started this small business when I was nineteen, working for a company that did slab works for patios or driveways. We did all the side jobs for them. It was lucrative, and we had formed a small team.,’ he reminisces of his early jobs. 

This experience made him rethink what legacy he would like to leave behind, and his first jobs were a wake-up call for him to find his way in the world.

I do not want to look back sixty years down the line. And see how my only impact is in laying down concrete. It was the start of finding my purpose.’, he discloses. 

Enquanto há vida, há esperança

Having lived a life without a lot of regrets is something Gary is grateful about. And, given that mistakes are an inescapable part of life, he is pleased with the lessons it has taught him. 

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to make as many mistakes as quickly as possible. It is inevitable. So, make it quicker. What we don’t have is the time! So, the quicker we can make mistakes, the quicker we can learn, and the faster we can get to where we need to be.’, he advises. 

His primary purpose now is to break the poverty cycle around him, and he realizes how important it is for families to get that opportunity to end this vicious cycle. 

I am a product of a family that has broken that vicious cycle. My grandmother grew up dirt poor and had a horrible and difficult life. She went through unimaginable abuse and even lost her children, of which only my mom was the one she could keep and raise. And my mom, with all the hardships and trauma, could become a world champion in roller skating. So, it is possible to do the impossible.,’ he acknowledges. 

Gary now has his own family, and he sees their journey through the eyes of his daughters.

‘It’s beautiful to see the results of my grandmother’s journey and how that leads to me and now my girls who have better opportunities and life to create something for themselves. I remember writing a letter to my grandmother when she was in her final stages. I was in Guatemala for my project and told her how it would help thousands of people. She had set the wheels in motion and made it possible for me to do it, and I wrote to her about her impact, which is rippling out to the rest of the world.’, he fondly remembers. 

Plataforma is not just a project close to his heart but an idea that culminated in the wake of his grandmother’s demise. And in part preserving her legacy of breaking the cycle of poverty for his family and creating a product that will enable others to do the same. 

When I became a father and seeing my daughter was indeed one of the best gifts I have received. Until your children are born, you are the most important person in the world. Once you become a parent, it changes… you can give your life for your children. The ego dissolves, and you realize this life you created will live on beyond you. It makes you more empathetic and humbler. It is a beautiful process to go through. ‘, he reveals. 

One of the incidents that profoundly influenced him was when his dad started a small construction company. He saw first-hand how the conventional route of working hard in your prime and retiring in the final years didn’t work out well for his dad. 

I saw how my dad worked hard for his company and followed the traditional way of retiring in the last few years left to enjoy what he had achieved. But the economic downturn at that time made him lose everything. It hit me hard. I knew in no way would I follow that recipe to wait till I was older to enjoy my life. I wanted to live a life of purpose and do what I enjoy doing. ‘, he confesses. 

These experiences set up the trajectory for his career, and his family has been single-handedly the most influential people in his life.

He remembers, ‘My grandparents showed me how to make people feel important. Especially my grandfather; people just love him and gravitate toward him. He took a genuine concern for their lives, and he made them feel special. Intrinsically, we all remember how people make us feel.’

Social entrepreneurship was always a calling that came naturally to him. He recounts how we have lost touch with humanity, and most of us have gained the world but lost our souls somewhere in the pursuit of logic or monetary gains.

Many people don’t realize how you need to connect your head and heart to be a social entrepreneur. In terms of not just seeking profit or monetary value or using logic but generating impact and creating a change … we need the heart to sort of act as a compass to find our purpose and the head to traverse all the challenges that come along with it. So, navigate the world through your head and use your heart to make a mark in the world.’, he divulges. 

He recounts one of his favorite quotes from Picasso, ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose is to give it away.‘ that has guided him over the years. It has provided him with a mission to ensure that the remaining time he has is used for a cause to uplift others.

We are hopeful of the impact leaders like Gary will bring to the table to revolutionize the industry and create a space of diversity and inclusivity to break that vicious cycle that limits so many signs of brilliance from shining through in the system around us. 

As one of the famous Portuguese proverbs expresses the importance of hope in our lives:

Enquanto há vida, há esperança.’

While there’s life, there’s hope.

Here’s hope for a beautiful future of unlocking enormous potential without boundaries. 

Connect with us on

Connect with Gary on

Leave a Reply